Research group for rhetoric, democracy and public culture

'Well, That's Just My Opinion': The Principle of Expression and the Public Debate

The public debate is commonly criticised for lacking deliberation. Therefore, the group member of the Research group for rhetoric, democracy and public culture, Ida Vikøren Andersen, argues that we need a better understanding of the rhetorical modes occurring instead of deliberation

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By examining the interaction in a particularly expressive arena for public debate, namely public comment fields on Facebook, Andersen suggests the term 'principle of expression' to describe a discursive ideal that directly counteracts the ideal of deliberative disagreement by favouring subjective expression over reason-giving. According to this ideal, the public debate should not primarily play out as an exchange of opinions but, instead, accommodate authentic displays of opinion. Moreover, the beliefs and opinions voiced in the public debate are seen as purely expressive: they arise out of the individual's inviolable interiority and individuality and concern not the general but the particular. Thus, argumentation is not required, and criticism is unwarranted.

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